ROSELLE – The smile on Natalie Grubczak's face said it all.
"We wanted it. We wanted it so badly," said Grubczak, a Lake Park senior, following the Lancers 2-0 victory over St. Charles East on Wednesday.
With the win, Lake Park clinched the first-ever championship of the DuKane Conference.
After Saints' catcher Paige Ligocki grounded out, the Lancers (21-11, 11-3) spilled onto the field in jubilation. In the process, Lake Park avenged a 9-0 loss to St. Charles East on May 7.
It apparently stuck with Grubczak. A team dinner on Tuesday night helped bring the team together and mentally get in the zone.
"I know they gave us a run for our money last game, and I was like 'No, we were coming out here to win,'" Grubczak continued.
Saints starting pitcher Katie Arrambide only made a few mistakes, allowing an RBI triple to Abby Rodriguez and Grubczak's RBI single in the fourth.
The East sophomore ace pitched out of a crucial jam in the fifth and set down the Lancers in order in the sixth, but the Saints bats couldn't find the critical hit.
Arrambide finished with six strikeouts, allowing six hits and walking one. Grubczak, opposite of her, allowed just four hits, striking out two in the complete-game effort.
"Katie's just been consistent; she changes speeds [and] moves the ball all around," St. Charles East coach Jarod Gutesha said. "[Logocki], behind the plate...the two of them working together I think is huge. The way they work together, I think is second-to-none. Having that [chemistry] is very important, especially as you go into the postseason."
The two teams could potentially meet again in a sectional final.
"[The loss] just leaves us wanting to get revenge, obviously," Arrambide said. "It'll be even tougher [potentially] seeing them for the third time in the postseason."
The Saints (19-9, 10-4) singled to start off the game, but didn't get another hit until Maddy Stout's fourth-inning single. Chelsea Campagna hit a two-out double in the fifth, but was left on base.
Several possible Saints hits were taken away due to the excellent defense behind Grubczak, with Rodriguez playing a major factor at shortstop with a handful of diving plays.
"They made a heck of a lot of good defensive plays; they took a lot of hits away," Gutesha said.
Lancers coach Tom Mazzie called Wednesday's team performance a "defensive gem."
"That was about the best defensive game they've played all year," Mazzie said.
"Natalie came out, she was all around the zone [and] really didn't get behind in the count much," Mazzie continued. "I felt like she pitched ahead a lot. Compared to when we went to their place a couple weeks ago, we were behind the whole time. Those girls just sat back and raked."